Sonia Solomonson on Loving Ourselves

On this patriotic weekend, I’m excited to welcome Sonia Solomonson, Life Coach, author and former editor, on the topic of loving ourselves. If you’ve read IN TIMES LIKE THESE, my latest women’s fiction, you’ll realize how her advice applies to Addie, the heroine. Love of country comes easily for her, but loving herself presents such a difficult challenge.

Sonia gives us step-by-step guidelines. And she is offering FIVE free forty-five minute life-coaching phone sessions to the first five commenters here. Wow! When you comment, please leave your e-mail address so she can contact you.

5 Tips for Loving Yourself

Even when we see ourselves as extremely independent and self-sufficient, if we’re really honest with ourselves, we desire to be loved.

To have friends, you have to be a friend, we’ve been told.  The same is true for love: To be loved, you have to love. And it all begins with moi! Start by loving yourself.

Some people think self-love is selfish and wrong. Dominican priest and 13th century theologian Thomas Aquinas believed that self-love was akin to pride—or “the beginning of all sin.” However, the Bible does tell us to love God with all our heart and soul and “love your neighbor as yourself.” That little word “as” says that I start by loving myself. Then I have the conditions inside me to love my neighbor in that same way. It all stems from God’s love for us.

Psychologist and social philosopher Erich Fromm said in 1956 that loving yourself is different from being arrogant or egocentric. He said rather that it means respecting yourself, knowing yourself, caring about yourself and taking responsibility for yourself. I’m with him!

I’ve heard it said that you are the one person who will be with you longer than anyone else will be—and, therefore, it’s crucial that you learn to be your own best friend.

What does it mean to love yourself?

Here are five tips:

  • Accept yourself. If you beat up on yourself a lot, stop it right now. You wouldn’t do that to your best friend, would you? So why would you think it’s OK to beat up or ridicule yourself? You are unique and precious, a true one-of-a-kind. Accept who and what you are. Love and accept all of yourself, what you see as your special gifts and also what you call your flaws. Often, these are two sides of the same coin.

For example, I’m a sensitive person, tuned in to what others are feeling. That’s a good thing—particularly in my vocation as a life coach but also in my relationships. The flip side, however, is something about which I used to be impatient with myself: I am (overly) sensitive about things others say to and about me. I’ve worked hard to tweak that. I also accept that, to some degree, one goes with the other.

  • Take good care of yourself. It means seeing your body, mind and spirit as precious gifts that need and deserve nurture and attention. It’s all too easy to take our bodies for granted and not give them sufficient rest, good food or plenty of exercise. Sometimes we take better care of our cars than we do our bodies, doing regular maintenance checks and taking care of whatever needs attention!

Let yourself feel whatever emotions arise. Are you sad?  Feel it. Perhaps there’s some loss, whether minor or major, that you simply have to stop and grieve. Are you anxious? Stop and deal with it; don’t ignore it. Do deep breathing, yoga, meditation, prayer or whatever helps you. Afraid? Look your fears in the eye and see whether you can bring them down to size by injecting some realism into them. Are things really as bad as they seem? Can you do anything about it? If not, can you let go? If you can do something, can you find a first step and start moving?

Are you happy? Celebrate that. Savor the good moments. Be grateful for them. Remember it’s OK to celebrate your achievements—both small and large. You can have your own little party. Or you can invite someone special to celebrate with you. Share your joy.

Some of us learned at a young age to stuff down emotions—sad and fearful ones or even joyful ones. If so, you may want to do some work around that so you can experience the full range of emotions.

  • Set boundaries for what behavior you will and won’t accept from others. You have a right to expect to be treated well and spoken to respectfully. You do not have to accept put-downs and abusive treatment—and you certainly don’t want to treat yourself that way either. Remember, boundaries aren’t meant to be punitive or manipulative toward others. They’re simply borders you set for yourself to know what’s OK and what isn’t for you—and what you will do if someone crosses that line.
  • Choose life. Insofar as it’s possible given what’s happening in your life, choose happiness and joy. Choose to be positive. Sometimes you simply need to reframe what’s happening and see possibility rather than a problem. When I lost my job, reframing wasn’t easy. I was hurt, angry, and scared. Only when I could begin to see possibility, however, was I able to create a new dream. Mind you, that didn’t happen overnight. First I needed to grieve the lost dream.

I hope you get the idea. There are many other ways to show yourself love.  Whatever you do, let go of the idea that self-love is selfish or decadent. Self-love is really the start of a more joyful life and deeper, more fulfilling relationships. It’s also the way we teach others how to treat us.

scs.rose.smile.closeupBy Sonia C. Solomonson

A writer, editor and life coach, Solomonson writes daily blogs at www.way2growcoaching.com, where you can sign up for her monthly ezine.

 

 

Serious Subjects in Women’s Fiction

Welcome, Lee Carver. I’m glad you’ve tackled a common theme in our society. Rare is the family without a divorce somewhere among the generations. Your heroine and hero drew me in precisely because one was a widower, and one almost divorced.

Like your recent release, Gail, I tackled the issue of a troubled marriage in “Retreat to Shelter Creek.” Using humor in every way possible to lighten the serious subject, I employed the family guard-pig Beulah, a skunk in the garage, and lots of down-home Texas dialogue.

I’ve felt the need to write about divorce between Christians since our daughter put the kids in the car and drove away from her fifteen-year marriage. She’d said her vows with the highest expectations and did everything possible to make the marriage work.

Two of our nieces, both darling and beautiful Christians, married men who cast them aside. Both tried marriage again quite a few years later, and both were in danger of being murdered by their second husbands. Christian young women may have been reared in such safe environments that they are unaware of how faulted their chosen ones are. They expect a happy marriage like those of their parents—safe, loving, and supportive both emotionally and financially.

My female main character, Ashley, sees an opportunity for an honorable separation from her husband and his pregnant lover by going to her grandmother’s house in Texas. Mama Lou is receiving chemo for breast cancer, and Ashley will help her for the summer. I had already written the first chapters when our daughter, living in a distant state, was given the same diagnosis. I left Texas for six weeks to help with her care, and returned with a realistic understanding of what that requires.

More on the light side, Ashley is a high school teacher of biology. When she extends her stay with Mama Lou, she agrees under duress to teach first grade at the local school. Teachers everywhere will laugh at her experiences with the little ones.

This story will leave you smiling. There’s even an elder romance subplot, and readers will find spiritual inspiration woven throughout.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

Ashley went into the shed and got a handful of feed just for the fun of giving it to her. Caught off guard by a rustle in the dark, she froze. Was a person hiding in there? A rattlesnake? Her pulse pounded in her neck. As her eyes adjusted, she spied something bright white moving a few feet away. A bright white stripe. Bordered by blackest black.

A skunk!

Don’t run. Be calm.

The plump, shiny animal waddled toward the back of the shed, giving her courage to slip silently out the door and push it closed.

Leaning against the door, weak-legged and sweating, she thanked God the skunk hadn’t sprayed her.

She had no idea what to do next. In her normal world, there had always been a man she could ask for help. The image of the strong, manly Texas roofer came to mind. His phone number printed on the receipt left in the kitchen beckoned to her. He knew about local animals.

Maybe she would call Austin.

Lee Carver is once again failing at retirement, a hybrid author in every sense: fiction and nonfiction, traditionally and independently published. She also does freelance editing, formatting, and uploads. Married forty-eight years to a very tolerant man, they have two children and five grandchildren who live entirely too far away.

Retreat print-6 small front AMAZON.COM: http://amzn.to/1R8p7HM

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Julie Arduini – Entrusted: Surrendering the Present

 

EntrustedFinalCover2Thanks so much Julie, for being here this week.You’ve done a great job with your covers, and  I wish you all the best with your Indie publications. Now, tell us more!

ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past, wasn’t a book I ever thought about writing. I started ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present years and years ago when I first visited the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate NY. As I grew in the craft and surrendered fear of what others would think, I was able to revise the work to what eventually became ENTRUSTED. I’d done enough editing on it that I knew I needed a different ending that would tie up loose plot points.

I have a team that prays for me, and I asked them to pray with me about the ending. As I did, one day the ending just came to me. I know it was God’s direction, it tied everything up perfectly. More than that, it opened the doors for Carla to have a story. I’m really excited to share ENTANGLED with everyone.

Both ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present and ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past are slated for release in May. ENTRUSTED will be available for free as an ebook for awhile, so stay tuned to my Amazon and Goodreads pages, as well as follow me across social media @JulieArduini.

Julie Arduini – Going Indie

Thanks for being here this week, Julie. I’m interested in how you decided to go Indie.

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The decision  was a complete God orchestration. Last year I felt a stirring that I could not put my finger on. The more I read devotions, Bible studies, and writing books, the clearer I felt the picture was getting, but I wasn’t sure how to go about changing things. In what I can only explain as God at work, the door opened for me to get the rights back to my work and move forward in obedience to what God was calling me to do.

I created Surrendered Scribe Media. It’s not only the imprint I’ll use for my books, but encompasses everything I’ll do as a speaker and encourager. My heart is to encourage audiences to find freedom through surrender. Fiction writing will be a big part of that, but I hope to do much more.

Going Indie isn’t easy, especially if you want to be a respected mainstay. I spent most of the winter reading and in training on all aspects from cover design, editing, marketing, formatting, and distribution. My husband reminded me that much of what I was learning would carry me through all my projects, not just releasing the Surrendering Time series.

Thanks for sharing the process and challenges, Julie. I have a feeling many authors will relate to and learn from you sharing.

Julie Arduini – The Entangled Series

Welcome, Julie. I’m glad to have you visit, with three posts this week to celebrate your new releases. I’ve always enjoyed your quip about someday surrendering the chocolate. (See below.) Today, I’m looking forward to hearing about Entangled-Surrendering the Past.

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I’m excited to present the second book in my rebranded Surrendering Time series (formerly Adirondack Surrender Romance).  This is Carla Rowling’s story, Jenna Anderson’s best friend from ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present. In ENTANGLED, Carla’s been handed her dream. She’s able to leave her “pay the bills” job as sheriff and attend cosmetology school. It’s such an extravagant gift Carla feels unworthy, still unable to forgive herself for becoming a mom as a teenager.

Carla struggles with guilt, and leaving her now teenaged son, Noah, as she goes to school. When Noah’s father, Wayne Peterson, moves to town and asks Carla to give him one more chance, she’s torn. Her flannel-wearing, truck driving boyfriend, Will Marshall, has supported her through all the changes. As she tries to excel in beauty school, she deals with fear of Noah making teen choices that are too familiar to her own history. Wayne’s right there, wanting to pick up where they left off in high school. Will doesn’t know Carla’s torment because she hasn’t told him her problems. Will Carla’s choices cause as many entanglements as a bad perm?

ENTANGLED is scheduled for release in May. Look for ENTRUSTED to re release for free (ebook) in the same time frame. Follow Julie Arduini on Amazon, Goodreads, and throughout social media as @Julie Arduini to stay in touch for the latest information.

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of the upcoming re-release, ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, as well as the sequel, ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past, set for a spring release. She also shared her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://juliearduini.com, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities at JULIE ARDUINI: SURRENDER ISSUES AND CHOCOLATE and the weekly e mail. SUNDAY’S SURRENDER AND CHOCOLATE.

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Weekly Sunday’s Surrender and Chocolate: http://eepurl.com/bJ5yHP

 

 

In the Swing of Spring

My baby kale’s peeking through the soil, and volunteer squash plants have emerged around the compost pile. The trees have leafed out, a sure sign that Spring isn’t just flirting with us anymore.

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And inside, I’ve experienced the fruits of my labor: the first box of In Times Like These arrived yesterday, on our thirty-eighth anniversary. This young World War II farm wife’s story has been long in the writing, and holding the finished creation brings undeniable satisfaction.

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Beside me on the wall hangs Emily Dickinson’s HOPE, which fits in with this season. It’s great to witness new birth all around us with our backyard cardinals, a multitude of robins, and flowers budding. We’ve even had our first butterfly visit. IMG_4839

 

I’ve always liked the way Proverbs puts it: “…the desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.” Sigh….winter is gone for good. Welcome back, Spring, and welcome to the world, Addie!

I’ll keep you updated on our flowers, and for more information on In Times LIke These, see the previous post, MY BOOKS, or go here: http://amzn.to/1VFEoYh

Maybe We Aren’t in Charge…

Another wonderful photo from my husband’s collection – see this mama cardinal’s bright red beak through the peephole? This image speaks to recent events in our lives.  (See the previous blog’s great pictures.)

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She seems as patient and determined as can be, awaiting her hatchlings’ births.

 

The next shot shows  her from above, in our cold Northern Iowa rain. At first, he thought the white dots were actual specks on her back. IMG_3780But they’re raindrops a-sparkle.

Rain or shine, cold or bitter, nasty winter wind, she’s faithful, with no idea when these chicks will burst forth from their shells.

After a wild night last night, I can relate! My first women’s fiction historical novel in a series of three was scheduled to release on June 6, D-Day. I thought the date fitting, since the theme is one woman’s personal growth and victory over fear in the violent backdrop of World War II.

Well, what do I know? The book seems to have a life of its own, because last night it went live, regardless of our posted schedule. I’ve almost gotten over the shock, but still wonder why, since I had readers/reviewers lined up to post on release day–I was doing everything RIGHT to make this book release a success. (Just like my heroine, Addie does everything possible to please her controlling husband.)

Which takes us back to our title–maybe I’m not in charge. Maybe God pried my tight little fingers away from this story and has things in mind for it I’d never have dreamed of. Whatever the case, Addie is now out there in the world–sometimes cold and cruel.

Dear readers, I hope you love her! Here’s the book blurb:

Pearl Harbor attacked! The United States is at war.

But Addie fights her own battles on the Iowa home front. Her controlling husband Harold vents his rage on her when his father’s stoke prevents him from joining the military. He degrades Addie, ridicules her productive victory garden, and even labels her childlessness as God’s punishment.

When he manipulates his way into a military unit bound for Normandy, Addie learns that her best friend Kate’s pilot husband has died on a mission, leaving her stranded in London in desperate straits.

Will Addie be able to help Kate, and find courage to trust God with her future?

Here’s the Amazon.com purchase link: http://amzn.to/1VFEoYh

Hunkering Down

I just have to share my husband’s remarkable photos of a female cardinal warming her eggs. We’re having cool weather again today, and she knows she needs to hang out on her nest.

The pictures we have of the eggs – certainly not robin’s egg blue, but larger and speckled- bring questions to mind.IMG_3680

Does the number of speckles mean anything? Are some eggs more inclined to hold females, others males?     With all these close-ups, I’m realizing this female’s beautiful, though not as striking as her spouse.

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The foliage under the mama’s well-positioned nest is burgeoning. Will we get to witness her feed her babies? I hope so, but her husband flashes by often, and it quite territorial. His calls override the robins in the area, and all others.

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Seems to me this little homemaker feels secure next to our tall fence, in an obscure corner of the courtyard that is our back yard.

Confident that all will work out just fine. Content to do her tedious work, knowing that the outcome will satisfy.

I can’t help but compare her attitude to mine as I nurture a new women’s fiction novel to its release into the world. Will it be a cold, cruel world, or a warm, accepting one? Will readers embrace Addie, my World War II heroine, as she struggles with her husband’s anger?

IIMG_3666 think this little birdie would say, “You’ve done your research. You’ve bided your time. You’ve re-re-re-re-re-re-re-edited, considered criticism, made changes, taken classes, and secured a professional edit, and now, it’s time.

Our mama cardinal’s  steady black eye, her devotion to her babies, and her patience all remind me that daring to bloom holds not simply promise, but challenge. So many have encouraged me along the way. Thanks, Machelle, Jane, Holly, Carolyn, Ann, Julia, Wendi, Bonnie, Diane and Lee, for cheering me on to this point.
And thanks Lance, for working hard to give me the luxury of writing full-time. Readers, Addie’s on her way!

 

A NEW Author!

Kathryn Moore, an author with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, celebrates her first fiction release with a look at what motivated her to write. CAN WRITERS REALLY AFFECT THE REAL WORLD?

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Thanks Kathryn, for sharing with us today.

Please leave a comment to encourage this new author on her journey. 

Why I Write

Can one woman’s voice have an impact on our culture?

A few years ago, with two children entering their teens, my husband and I voiced a frustration with the rarity of family appropriate movies. Our children were too old for Disney and Pixar and they definitely weren’t ready—in our minds anyway—for PG-rated films. Sadly, we simply stopped going to the movies.

Later that same year, my mother-in-law, a prolific reader like me whom I absolutely adore, recommended a book to me. I read it and, while it was a good story, the writing was downright horrible. It made me think, Heck, I could write better than that. And the more I thought about it, the more I talked myself into it. People around me—at work, at home, on several boards I’ve served on—often asked me to handle the correspondence or proofread what they’d written. Obviously others thought I had a way with words.

I’m the kind of person who lights my own little candle instead of cursing the darkness and my personal mission statement is to live a life that’s pleasing to God, along with those I love. So, being compelled to use my gifts to write a story with cultural impact seemed like a God thing.

When I sat down to decide what to write, I kept two things in mind. It had to be a story my whole family would enjoy and it had to be something that would make a great movie.

I decided on a love story because every box office hit contains a great romance, but I wanted it to be one my husband would enjoy. So when my brother described an interesting film he’d watched called Gas Hole, an eye-opening documentary that alleged a massive cover up by oil companies, it sounded like the makings of an intriguing story and one with a definite modern-day interest, given the volatility of gas prices. According to the documentary, “Big Oil” has been suppressing innovations in fuel efficiencies for years, even going so far as to murder at least one very bright young inventor who had the idea for an engine that ran on vapor.

Like many men, my husband is into cars. Coupled with my above-average-for-a-woman knowledge of engines, mechanics and chemistry in general, I came up with the idea of a young woman who, like me, grew up working on cars with her father. My husband and son love NASCAR too so I thought that would provide an exciting backdrop as well as tie in nicely with the idea of fuel efficiency.

And finally, above all, I wanted it to be wholesome and family friendly, with a meaningful message for young people. So my heroine is a young woman of faith who’s made a commitment to God to save her virtue for marriage. She wears a purity ring and the story explores how difficult it can be for a young woman to retain those ideals in our modern culture.

My agent sent a proposal and an advance reader copy of Angel Beneath My Wings to a Hollywood screenwriter/producer last month. The book came out February 29th. So wish me luck or say a prayer and if you’d like to add your flame to my little candle. I hope you read my story and help spread the fire.

Purchase link: http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Womens-Fiction-Beneath-Inspirational/dp/1938499670

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Check out Kathryn’s website: KathrynSueMoore.com 

 

Ill-fitting, or fit for our work?

Every summer, I take some of my plants outdoors. In early March, I noticed something else growing out of one of those pots, a totally “other” plant. But something told me to let it grow, and it’s since flourished in the sunshine of our south dining room windows. Kind of hard to pull up a specimen that wants to grow so badly.

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Yes, it’s an oak tree in a jade world.

But it doesn’t belong, right? Well, years ago, I felt like I didn’t, either. Since I’m kind of a gregarious personality type, it really didn’t bother me too much, but every once in a while, I’d sense that outsider feeling. Since we’ve moved quite a few times, I usually attributed the situation to being new.

Then I read The Cloister Walk  by Kathleen Norris. It’s one of those books I’ve read more than once, but the first time through, this author encouraged me SO much by helping me understand myself better. I don’t have the exact quote, but it went something like, “As writers, our job is to record/report what we see. That means we often stand outside an event, a circumstance, or a place and look in. Then we report on what we see.”

Wow – a puzzle piece slipped into place. Today I met a bunch of Iowa writers at the Ankeny Book Fair. Spending time with them heartened me, as our far-north locale doesn’t produce tons of writer-types. And we are a type!

So I’d like to say thank you to Joy King, who planned the fair and also to the many writers there who encouraged me today. Hope to see you again somewhere in Iowa!